Today We Live, But Not If The Men Can Help It
Living more daringly... loving more excitingly!
One of the more disarmingly misleading trailers I've yet see. Strangely unable to account for the fact that the film is, in truth, about:
incestuous love triangles (see: three wedding rings, and the moment, visible in the trailer, when Ann / Joan Crawford is dead-eye staring up, not at a Gary Cooper grand passion in question in question, but at her brother as she and her boyhood friend/current pseudo-lover tell him, in essence, that they finally did the deed - "remember how the three of us used to mess around as kids? Well, we're not kids anymore" - and that this occasion is used for she and her brother to kiss, albeit their lips barely missing each other to maintain an unconvincing semblance of propriety) that are always threatening to become a square, the prospect of which is desperately fended off by a shift into thrill-seeking homosociality and a masochism that can't stick to its guns and enjoy anything,
the total evacuation of historical gravity, cockroach fighting, a joy of guns and flight, a startling subtraction of all emotional connective tissue between claims (leading to the hybrid of an early form of Hawksian tough talk, here meaning mostly that you either remove the word "I" from sentences ["see clearly now. See a lot of things now."] or that you render yourself third person, and a seemingly causeless declaration of "fierce passion" -
Hi, we've only met once, and I kept picking up the pipes and personal affects of your father, who just died today unbeknownst to me, and I am an American buying your estate and taking over your house, relegating you to the cottage out back, and I've only seen you a couple other times when you bicycled past my house and I was stalking at the window, but I can't wait any longer: I love you!
Oh damn it, I love you too! [despite my interaction with you only involving that first disastrous moment of apparently successful transference from Dad to you]
- that ends up mirroring the sheer frictionless drift of the whole enterprise), Faulkner's idea ofBritishness (in brief: not that into sex, oddly good at shooting things, inseparable unity of national and personal destiny),
and, above all, the sublime idiocy of a masculine death-cult / operative definition of masculinity as a cult of death. For it's the last that dominates the entire film, in which there is no seeming urgency to the war other than as a chance to get oneself done in, in which the Germans (despite being the only people seen as a) not drunk, and b) organized enough to fight a war) are incapable of shooting anything, including a small boat hurtling toward it with a torpedo attached, in which no one raises a real complaint at bringing untrained competitors for the affection of Ann into in which you race against your competitors not to get the girl but to kill yourself and therefore forcing the guilt of your death onto the suckers who didn't die fast enough A guilt that doesn't even stick. (The letters on the tombstone are raised, not chiseled in.) A decade and a half after the war, in which even a monumental explosion cannot pit the gliding surface of this Teflon world.
They set flame to a story. That much is true: staggering, inconsequential, blinded, they hasten off to throw themselves into the fire of war, conveniently dragging down the remnants of an empire and a large number of German battleships with them. The cunning of history has rarely been so suicidal.